Marussia today belatedly rolled out its 2012 car for the first of two filming days at Silverstone and in the process pointedly drew a line under the design philosophy of the team’s first two years in Formula 1 – describing the new MR01 as a “ground-up re-evaluation of the way the team designs its racing cars”.
The team, which is now named after the Russian sportscar company that holds the majority stake, famously pioneered an all-CFD approach with the VR-01 and MVR-02 but after an underwhelming start to last year parted company with technical director Nick Wirth and set about a change of direction under the guidance of highly respected former Renault man Pat Symonds, who officially remains as a consultant amid the final year of his enforced spell away from front-line F1 involvement.
In its press release outlining details of the new car, the team talked about “going back to basics” with a car that features few carry over parts and has benefited from input from a restructured aerodynamic department, with a wind tunnel now being utilised for the first time.
The team is now able to draw on the expertise of McLaren through a technical tie-up, while the move into Wirth Research’s former Banbury base means all the team’s departments are under one roof for the first time.
Amid the progress off the track, however, was of course the failure of the new chassis – which, like the McLaren doesn’t feature the in-vogue stepped nose – to pass all 18 of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests, which forced the team to sit out last week’s final Barcelona test and prompted the Silverstone promotional days, where the MR01 is only able to run on demonstration Pirelli tyres rather than the pukka 2012 rubber.
Team boss John Booth admitted the lack of serious running before Melbourne was far from ideal, but is at least glad to finally have the car on the track in some capacity: “It has been a long and frustrating wait for everyone in the team but we can now get back on track – literally – and start working towards the first race of the season in Australia next weekend. Today is the first of two promotional events, so while the drivers will be able to get a feel for the car, they won’t be able to draw any real conclusions until we start running in anger in Melbourne. Nevertheless, this is an important day for us and we’ll enjoy every minute on track with the new car.”
It emerged the team are still to actually pass the final crash test before competing in Melbourne, but Symonds said they were working on the best solution to the unspecified problem. He said: “The component in question has actually passed an ‘unobserved’ crash test but has been performing inconsistently in the observed tests. The fail has only been marginal but, nonetheless, we need to completely eradicate that margin and as such we are taking the time we have to ensure we have an even more robust solution in place.”